Philippines gaming operator Waterfront Philippines Inc (WPI) says it is looking for suitable strategic partners for the development and operation of a potential new integrated resort project in Manila’s Entertainment City.
WPI revealed last week that a Supreme Court decision compelling Philippines gaming regulator PAGCOR to issue the company with a casino license was now final – opening the door for it to proceed with development of Entertainment City’s fifth IR.
The news sparked significant movement in WPI’s share price, up from Php0.495 to Php0.74 per share, which in turn prompted the Philippine Stock Exchange to query the unusual price movement.
In reply, WPI pointed to last week’s announcement and said it is currently in the midst of its selection process to find the appropriate strategic partners to make any future IR development a success.
“In response to the disclosure on the Supreme Court decision pertaining to the granting of the company’s casino license, the company has received several congratulatory messages from foreign casino groups,” it said.
“However, given the COVID situation, prospective investor groups are still studying the Philippine business climate and the financial dynamics of the proposed project in the ‘new normal.’ It is in this light that the company continues its selection process for investment partners for the Grand Waterfront Hotel and Casino.
“The company remains optimistic about the recovery of the Philippine economy and believes that the travel, gaming and hospitality sectors will continue to play a major role in determining the growth.
“The company also believes that the selection process for strategic partners will play a crucial role in making the project a success, and as such, will exert the best efforts in the selection process.”
WPI first filed an application to develop the Grand Waterfront Hotel and Casino and deposited US$100 million in cash, as per casino license requirements stipulated by PAGCOR, in 2008.
But despite fulfilling all requirements, PAGCOR failed to respond, with Waterfront eventually filing a petition in 2015 seeking a resolution.
The Regional Trial Court subsequently ruled in Waterfront’s favor in August 2017, ordering the regulator to act on its license application, with the Court of Appeals supporting that ruling in 2018 and ordering PAGCOR to pay Waterfront Php100,000 in moral damages and Php100,000 in exemplary damages.
The Court of Appeals also made it clear at the time that Waterfront’s license would be “similar to those granted to Resorts World Manila, City of Dreams, Solaire Resort and Casino and Okada Manila.”
There are currently three IRs in the designated gaming zone – Solaire, City of Dreams and Okada Manila – with a fourth, Westside City Resorts World, due to open in 2022.
WPI currently operates Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino, Waterfront Airport Hotel & Casino and Waterfront Manila Hotel & Casino.